How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories: A Mixed Medium Work of Art

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Bookstagrammer: lunchtime_reader

R E V I E W – B O O K

Tasnia Shahrin

Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue. Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone. In her latest illustrated book titled How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories, New York Times bestselling author, Holly Black returns to the world of her acclaimed Folk of the Air trilogy. Here she reveals a deeper side of the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan. This plot lets us take a peek at the details of his life before The Cruel Prince with several familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective.

When I got the news that there will be another book in The Folk of Air series, I was beyond excited, and then I found out it was going to be like a young adult illustrated story book? Well, consider me absolutely sold. How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a gorgeous book from start to finish – from Holly Black’s storybook writing to Rovina Cai’s beautiful illustrations, this book has it all.

When it comes to the plot, this book works so well precisely because of how short and whimsical the stories are and the illustrations tie in beautifully. It’s very much evocative of the type of storybooks you may have read as a child however with a more thought-provoking plot suited for your YA taste. Here, each chapter is like a little photo album almost, providing more of an insight into Cardan’s mind as well as new content we haven’t seen before. It really fleshes out the world of Elfhame more and brings it to life in vivid colour.

Let us now discuss a bit about the artwork done in this book that raised its charm to a whole new level. It’s not common to see YA books with illustrations, so I actually really found this book unique for precisely that reason. Rovina Cai’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Black’s prose and I loved the feeling of wonder, which turning each page and seeing the characters and settings gave me. I think the fact that this book does something unique in this regard, making it a mixed medium work of art is refreshing as it is something YA readers have not seen for some time. 

Overall, How The King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a book I will definitely cherish and keep with pride on my shelf for years to come. If, like me, you read and were obsessed with The Folk of Air trilogy, I think you’ll really enjoy this book and the chance to dive back into the world of Elfhame and into the mind of our resident faerie king.


Tasnia is a proud Slytherin who loves binging on poetry and graphic novels in her free time.


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